Apparently, in response to New Jersey’s sanctuary state policies, the Department of Homeland Security (the Department) has increased the number of worksite investigations and inspections. While the Department has not released inspection numbers since December of 2018, reports from those participating in immigration compliance, human resource departments, and other industry leaders indicate that New Jersey could see a nearly 1000% increase in the number of Notices of Form I-9 inspections from the 750% increase in the 2018 fiscal year.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) verifies immigration visas of H-1B and L-1 workers and Religious visas through its administrative department, Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS). The FDNS officers make unannounced visits to collect and verify information from the employers. The USCIS terms this as a compliance review.
The review consists of the FDNS officer verifying the petitioner and the beneficiary and whether they have followed the applicable immigration laws and regulations. The site visits are conducted randomly on petitioners. The site inspector verifies whether the petitioning organization exists, checks the supporting documents submitted with the petition, interviews personnel to confirm the beneficiary’s work location, etc. The FDNS officer compiles a compliance review report that is reviewed by their supervisor and subsequently by the USCIS Vermont or California center. This report becomes a part of the record. Further investigations are conducted if fraud is detected.
The process begins when the Department serves a Notice of Inspection (NOI) to subpoena the I-9 and other HR-related records. The NOI gives the employer three business days to produce the documents. For minor errors, ICE usually issues a warning notice without penalty. If substantive paperwork is missing or violations are found, then ICE will issue a Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF). The civil penalties for knowingly recruiting, hiring, referral and retention of unauthorized aliens and for I-9 paperwork violations are $230 – $22,927. The fine is higher for repeat violators. Employers will incur criminal liabilities when a pattern or practice of violations is found. The employer can be debarred from government contracts.
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